Building Allyship Series
The Building Allyship Series is a collaboration of the Graduate and Professional Student Diversity Council and the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement (OISE).
This series provides an opportunity for members of the Cornell community to gain insights into the depth and breadth of identities and experiences represented within our graduate community and engage in productive dialogue focused on fostering a greater understanding of the many aspects of critical allyship and its practice.
Each event seeks to create a safe space for critical dialogue where we can bridge gaps in knowledge, learn from each other, and create understanding without fear of judgment.
Read this article, Impact vs. Intent: Becoming Critical Allies Through Workshop Series, to learn more about this series.
SAVE THE DATES: Virtual Building Allyship Series
November 16, 2022 | 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. ET
April 18, 2023 | 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. ET
Congratulations to the Building Allyship Series Committee and Graduate & Professional Student Diversity Council for being recognized with an honorable mention for the 2021 Perkins Prize for Interracial and Intercultural Peace and Harmony!
We strive to make our events accessible to all community members. Individuals who would like to request accessibility accommodations should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask that requests be made at least one week in advance to help ensure they can be met.
2021-22 Building Allyship Sessions
October 2021: Understanding and Combating Insidious Forms of Anti-Asian Racism
This session included an invited talk and moderated panel discussion focused on developing an understanding of anti-Asian racism and the many insidious forms in which it can manifest. It also centered on sharing strategies on how those seeking to serve as allies can actively help combat anti-Asian racism including overt and covert forms of violence.
This session was hosted in collaboration with the Society for Asian American Graduate Affairs (SAAGA), a graduate student organization dedicated to advocating for graduate students who identify as members and/or are allies of the Asian and/or Asian American community. SAAGA works to create a network of support to better address academic, career, and social justice issues related to the Asian and Asian American graduate student population. SAAGA strives to create a safe space for its members to socialize with others, share academic and professional advice, and discuss issues of race, ethnicity, politics, and culture as they pertain to Asians/Asian Americans. Activities include invited lectures, discussions, film screenings, collaborations with other similar groups on campus, networking events, and more.
Featured Speaker and Moderator: Juhwan Seo, Ph.D. candidate, sociology
About the Speaker
Juhwan Seo is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and a graduate resident fellow in Hans Bethe House at Cornell University, where he is affiliated with the Asian American studies, Latinx studies, and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies programs. He studies how U.S. immigration policy shapes family formation of queer immigrants and how ethnic businesses employ low-wage immigrant workers. Previously, Juhwan organized with the New York Immigration Coalition and co-founded the Harvard Ethnic Studies Coalition. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, and the Social Science Research Council.
At Cornell, Juhwan plays with 14Strings!, a Filipino guitar ensemble (rondalla) and mentors undergraduate students on pursuing graduate studies with Graduate Students Mentoring Undergraduates. He previously worked for the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. Before coming to Cornell, Juhwan worked for an immigration advocacy nonprofit, where he conducted education policy research and organized immigrant communities. At Harvard, he led the movement for ethnic studies, managed a chamber orchestra, and taught health education at high schools.
- Clement Chow, Cornell Alumnus, Professor of Genetics, University of Utah
- Elvisha Dhamala, PhD Alumnus, Postdoc, Yale University
- Jason C. Marvin, PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering
- Kavya Krishnan, PhD Candidate, Soil & Crop Sciences
- Vinh P. Pham, PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature
November 2021: The Marginalization and Racialization of International Scholar Identities within the U.S. Context
This session included an invited talk and moderated panel discussion focused on developing an understanding of how international scholar identities can be racialized and marginalized within the U.S. context and how this can impact their experiences within the academy. The panelists shared what contributes to or hinders their sense of belonging and the strategies aspiring allies can employ to support international scholars who may be experiencing xenophobia alongside new aspects of marginalization. This discussion also explored what individual and collective actions we can take to validate the experiences of international scholars and create more inclusive learning, research, and social environments.
This session was hosted in collaboration with Graduate and Professional Students International (GSPI), an organization dedicated to building a community for international graduate and professional students through social events, networking opportunities, an online information hub, and mentoring. GSPI seeks to demystify many of the unwritten rules and norms of graduate school and to be a source of support to international scholars as they transition into and progress through their graduate studies at Cornell. The organization is especially concerned about helping to support international scholars who may be studying in the United States for the first time.
- View a recording of this session
- World Education News + Reviews: International Students and Experiences with Race in the United States
- Open Campus: How to Educate International Students About Race
- Cornell Office of Global Learning: Teaching International Students – Tips for Instruction
Featured Speaker: Gustavo A. Flores-Macías, associate vice provost for international affairs and associate professor of government
About the Speaker
Gustavo A. Flores-Macías is associate vice provost for international affairs and associate professor of government at Cornell University. He is the author of “After Neoliberalism: The Left and Economic Reforms in Latin America” (Oxford University Press, 2012), which received the Latin American Studies Association Tomassini Book Award in 2015. He is also the editor of “The Political Economy of Taxation in Latin America” (Cambridge University Press, 2019). He holds a Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University and an M.P.P. from Duke University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. Previously he served as director of public affairs at Mexico’s Federal Consumer Protection Agency and more recently as director of Cornell’s Latin American Studies Program. He is a faculty fellow at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a recipient of Princeton University’s Democracy and Development Fellowship. His commentary has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, The Hill, CNBC, Fox News, among others.
Moderator: Natalia Lopez Barbosa, Ph.D. candidate, chemical engineering, and president of Graduate & Professional Students International
- Dr Asher Williams, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow, Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
- Janani Hariharan, Ph.D. Candidate, Soil and Crop Sciences, and Founder and Past President of Graduate and Professional Students International
- Motasem Kalaji, Ph.D. Candidate, Communication
- Nancy Ruiz Uribe, Ph.D. Candidate, Biomedical Engineering
- Seema Singh, Ph.D. Candidate, City and Regional Planning
March 2022: Dismantling the Exclusivity of Academia Through Critical Allyship within our Neurodiverse Community
This event educated attendees about what neurodiversity is and the way that negative beliefs about neurodiversity impact our community. We explored the myths around neurodiversity within the context of academia and research environments. Additionally, we discussed ways to help mitigate the stigmatization of those in our communities whom we disable by misunderstanding neurodivergence.
Panelists discussed barriers that neurodivergent people face, and accommodations or structural changes that dissolve these barriers. They also discussed how aspiring allies can best and continuously support all members of our neurodiverse community regardless of bodymind. Recognition of neurodiversity brings value to Cornell University, and through critical allyship, we can all help our community thrive by embracing neurodiversity in all of its forms.
This Building Allyship Series session is collaboratively hosted by the Graduate and Professional Student Diversity Council, Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement and Disability+, the Graduate and Professional Students with Disabilities Association.
- View a recording of this session
- Leigh Abbott, University of Glasgow Postgraduate Researcher (PGR) Blog, Neurodiversity & Neurodivergent: What do they mean and how do they impact me as a PGR?
- Dr. M. Remi Yergeau, Future Professors Institute Keynote, Un/Accommodating Structures – On Disability and Higher Education
- Dr. Chloe Farahar, London School of Economics Opinion Piece, How can we enable neurodivergent academics to thrive?
- Special Books by Special Kids (SPSK): A 501(c)3 organization that seeks to normalize the diversity of the human condition under the pillars of honesty, respect, mindfulness, positivity and collaboration. This multi-media movement supports the acceptance and inclusion of all members of the neurodiverse community regardless of diagnosis, age, race, religion, income, sexual orientation, gender or gender expression.
Featured Speaker: Dr. Andrew Dell’Antonio, Professor, Butler School of Music, UT Austin
About the Speaker
Andrew Dell’Antonio is Distinguished Teaching Professor in the musicology/ethnomusicology division of the Butler School of Music in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. He is co-editor with William Cheng of the series Music and Social Justice (University of Michigan Press). His collected edition “Beyond Structural Listening? Postmodern Modes of Hearing” and “Monograph Listening as Spiritual Practice in Early Modern Italy” are both published by University of California Press. He blogs at adellantonio.com and The Avid Listener, and is co-author of “The Enjoyment of Music,” both from W. W. Norton. He has recently turned his focus to universal design for learning (UDL) and related approaches to anti-racism, anti-ableism, and intersectional equity/inclusion in higher education music. His commitment to UDL comes partly from his personal experience of neurodivergence.
Moderator: Katie Haviland, Ph.D. Student, Natural Resources and the Environment
- Dr. Dave Caudel, Associate Director of the First Center for Autism and Innovation, Vanderbilt University
- Dr. Florencia Ardon, Lecturer & Neurodivergent Student Support Program Manager, Learning Strategies Center, Cornell University
- Samantha Castillo-Davis ’00, M.H.A. ’17, Whole Person Health, Best Practices Lead/HLP Senior Advisor at Cigna
- Tim Luttermoser, Ph.D. Candidate, Entomology
April 2022: land Acknowledgements as Metaphor: Allyship and Land Back Movements
land acknowledgements are frequently given at official Cornell events, but what do they represent? During this session, we will dive into the performative aspects of land acknowledgements and how land-grant universities such as Cornell have a responsibility to move beyond these statements for Indigenous communities. Shifting the focus from acknowledgment to action, speakers will discuss ways students, non-Indigenous communities, and institutions can localize allyship. Such actions range from citing Indigenous thinkers, to supporting local Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ sovereignty and centering Indigenous relationships with the Land. We hope to amplify the voices of Indigenous students at Cornell, the members of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ, and the larger Haudenosaunee confederacy, as well as suggest actions to support Indigenous communities.
*The capitalization of land vs Land is intentional in both the title and description. This is following Dr. Sandra Styres and Dr. Dawn Zinga’s syntactical practice in their writing “The community-first Land-centred theoretical framework: bringing a ‘good mind’ to Indigenous education research?” as well as Dr. Max Liboiron’s “Pollution is Colonialism.” The capitalization of Land acknowledges “the unique entity that is the combined living spirit of plants, animals, air, water, humans, histories, and events recognized by many Indigenous communities.” Whereas when land is not capitalized, we refer “to the concept from a colonial worldview whereby landscapes are common, universal, and everywhere” (Liboiron 2021).
This Building Allyship Series session is collaboratively hosted by the Graduate and Professional Student Diversity Council, Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement, and the Indigenous Graduate Student Association.
- View a recording of this session
- Cornell American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program
- Cornell University and Indigenous Dispossession Project
- High Country News, Land-grab universities: Expropriated Indigenous land is the foundation of the land-grant university system.
- The Conversation,
- Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center (DDNRC) February 2022 Webinar and Resource List: Beyond Land Acknowledgements
- Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center (DDNRC) September 2021 Webinar:
- Two-Eyed Seeing and other lessons learned within a co-learning journey of bringing together indigenous and mainstream knowledges and ways of knowing
- ‘Polishing the Kaswentha’: a Haudenosaunee view of environmental cooperation
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action
- UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples): Human, Civil, and Indigenous Rights
- MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS 231 Calls for Justice
Thanksgiving Address: Sachem Sam George (Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’, Bear Clan)
Featured Speaker: Dr. Jolene Rickard, (Tuscarora, Turtle Clan) Associate Professor, Departments of History of Art and Art, Cornell University
About the Speaker
Dr. Jolene Rickard is a visual historian, artist and curator interested in the intersection of Indigenous knowledge and contemporary art, materiality, and ecocriticism with an emphasis on Hodinöhsö:ni aesthetics. Recent exhibitions include the Minneapolis Institute of Arts national exhibition, Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists, 2019-2021, Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Art For a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950’s to Now, 2018-2020. She co-curated two of the four inaugural exhibitions of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (2004-2014). Jolene is on the editorial board of American Art, a 2020 Fulbright Research Scholar, an Associate Professor in the departments of History of Art and Art, and the former Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program 2008-2020 (AIISP) at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Jolene is from the Tuscarora Nation (Turtle Clan), Hodinöhsö:ni Confederacy.
Moderator: Jenine Hillaire (Coastal Salish, Lummi Nation), PhD student, Fiber Science and Apparel Design, President of the Indigenous Graduate Student Association, Cornell University
- Abraham Francis (Mohawk Akwesasne, Deer Clan), CALS ’14, MS ’19, Program Manager for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne -Environment Program
- Dr. Meredith Alberta Palmer, (Tuscarora, Six Nations) Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow, Science and Technology Studies Department and American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, Cornell University
Closing Thanksgiving Address: Sachem Sam George (Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’, Bear Clan)
2020-21 Building Allyship Sessions
October 2020: The Dangers of Performative Allyship – Understanding Intent versus Impact
This session focused on developing an understanding of performative allyship and its dangerous impacts. The featured speaker and panelists provided insights on their experiences with performative allyship and share strategies for demonstrating critical allyship.
- Featured Speaker and Moderator: Chelsea Stephens, Ph.D. student, biomedical engineering
- Panelist: Tiffany Agard, M.P.A. student, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs
- Panelist: Elvisha Dhamala, Ph.D. candidate, neuroscience
- Panelist: Jesse Goldberg, Ph.D. ‘18, African American literature, visiting research fellow, Auburn University
- Panelist: Kelly Zamudio, Ph.D., Goldwin Smith Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; faculty curator of herpetology, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates
November 2020: Combating Anti-Blackness: A Virtual “Fireside Chat” with Cornell Bouchet Scholars
November 12, 2020 | 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. ET
This session focused on developing an understanding of anti-Blackness and the many forms in which it can manifest. It also centered on sharing strategies on how those seeking to serve as allies can actively help combat anti-Blackness.
- Moderator: Brianna Tate, Ph.D. student, animal science; president of the Black Graduate & Professional Student Association
- Discussant: Danielle Fuentes Morgan, Ph.D. ‘16, Cornell Bouchet Scholar, assistant professor of English, Santa Clara University
- Discussant: Monet Roberts, M.S. ’17, Ph.D. ’19, biomedical engineering, Cornell Bouchet Scholar, postdoctoral associate, Virginia Tech University
February 2021: Coming Out for Allyship with the LGBTQ+ Community
February 24, 2021 | 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. ET
This session provided us with an opportunity to understand the experiences of LGBTQ+ community members as they navigate academic spaces that often do not validate their identities. Through this session featuring student and faculty panelists, we explored what it means to be an ally to members of our LGBTQ+ community, how to validate their experiences and critical contributions to the academy, and what allies can do to help create more inclusive learning, research, and social environments.
- Moderator: Samantha Bosco, Ph.D. candidate, horticulture
- Panelist: Marguerite Pacheco, Ph.D. student, biomedical engineering
- Panelist: Leland Graber, Ph.D. student, entomology
- Panelist: Ana Witkowski, Ph.D. student, biomedical engineering
- Panelist: Luna Castelli ’19, program assistant for the Noise Project at the Lab of Ornithology
- Panelist: Masha Raskolnikov, associate professor of Literatures in English
March 2021: Existing and Acting at the Crossroads: Understanding Intersectionality to be Better Allies
March 17, 2021 | 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. ET
This session focused on developing an understanding of intersectionality within and beyond the Latina/o/x community and included a talk by Sofia Villenas, associate professor of anthropology, followed by a facilitated panel discussion. Latina/o/x identity is often discussed as a cohesive group with similar interests and considerations; However, the Latina/o/x community is a vibrant and diverse group of people from different countries, ethnicities, languages, races, religions, classes, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, citizen status, among other traits. The development of an intersectional lens enables critical allyship and advances social justice by broadening a historically unidimensional framework.
Speaker: Sofia Villenas, associate professor of anthropology
Moderator: Marguerite Pacheco, Ph.D. student, biomedical engineering
Panelist: Angie Torres-Beltran, Ph.D. student, government
Panelist: Renny John, M.P.H. ’20, academic program coordinator, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Panelist: Luis Melecio-Zambrano, Ph.D. candidate, chemistry
2019-20 Building Allyship Sessions
October 2019: Understanding the Fundamentals of Allyship
Friday, October 11, 2019 | 12 –1:00 p.m.
For this session, we were joined by Luca Maurer, a nationally recognized author and speaker on topics of inclusion and allyship and the founding director of the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach, and Services at Ithaca College, to learn about and discuss the fundamentals of allyship. This session provided us with an opportunity to understand what it means to be an ally and how to use your position as an ally to support and empower each other.
View a recording of this session.
November 2019: The Hidden Curriculum and International Students
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 | 12:00-1:00 p.m.
This session provided us with an opportunity to understand the experiences of international scholars coming to a U.S. institution of higher education and what it means to serve as an ally to them as they are confronted with a new institutional landscape and cultural environment. The organizers of this event included graduate students from Graduate and Professional Students International (GPSI), a student organization that is focused on creating community and mentorship opportunities for the graduate and professional student international community.
February 2020: Helping First-Generation Scholars Uncover the Hidden Curriculum
February 5, 2020 | 12:00-1:00 p.m.
This session featured a moderated panel discussion on how allies can help first-generation college students in graduate school uncover the “hidden curriculum” involved with navigating Cornell.
This session provided us with an opportunity to understand the experiences of first-generation scholars navigating graduate education and what it means to serve as an ally as they are confronted with new institutional landscapes and sociocultural environments.